There is now a country where most political party leaders are openly gay or bi.

Scotland is a unique country.

Hruuuuuummmmmmmmmmm. Hruuuuuummmmmmmmmm. Photo by Diliff/Wikimedia Commons.


It's the only country where roughly 1 in 8 people have red hair. It's the only country where you can travel 1.7 miles by commercial airliner. And it's the only country where people enjoy eating this:

Haggis is actually good, and I will fight you if you disagree. Photo by Jonathunder/Wikimedia Commons.

As if that weren't enough, Scotland nabbed yet another "only" this week when Scottish Labour Party leader Kezia Dugdale casually revealed that she has a female partner...

Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images.

...which appears to make Scotland "the only country in the world where most of its political party leaders are openly lesbian, gay or bisexual," according to a report in The Guardian.

Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images.

Dugdale (center in the above photo, in blue) and Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson (just left of her), as well as Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie (far left), and UKIP Scotland leader David Coburn have all come out as gay or bisexual.

Why is this such a big deal?

Well, it's historic! So, you know. That's pretty cool.

And it has real-world implications. Scotland's is Europe's most LGBT-friendly country, and that's probably not a coincidence, considering some of its most powerful lawmakers are LGB (though not T).

Scotland's first same-sex marriage ceremony in 2014. Photo by Mike Runnacles/Getty Images.

Various U.S. states continue to pass laws that target LGBT folks, like North Carolina's anti-trans "bathroom law," which forces trans men and women to use restrooms that correspond to their sex as assigned at birth, or Mississippi's "religious freedom" law that allows businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers.

That might not be the case if we had more LGBT legislators running the show.

It also helps reverse a several-millennia-long trend in Europe and the U.S. for entrusting power pretty much exclusively to straight white men.

(With a few notable exceptions).

It's not just Scotland that's entrusting leadership to those outside the white-hetero-male-ocracy:

Angela Merkel, the German prime minister who presides over the most powerful economy in Europe, is a woman.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the former prime minister of Iceland, became the first openly LGBT head of government in 2009.

Photo by Halldor Kolbeins/AFP/Getty Images.

And then there's this guy, of course.

Barack ... Obomo? Obano? Ogummy? Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

In Scotland, the face of power is increasingly not-straight. In Germany, it's female. In the United States, it's non-white. Forget the last millennium or so — that's a huge change from even just 40 years ago.

A generation of children in all these countries will grow up knowing that it's normal for their high-powered government officials to be LGBT or for the head of government to be a black man or woman.

Slowly but surely, the notion that you have to look a certain way, love a certain way, or be a certain gender to hold power in the West is becoming obsolete.

But is it actually, though? Or is that just some hopey changey pablum?

Well, yes and no.

There are currently 20 women in the U.S. Senate. That ties a historic high! But also, it's not remotely close to the percentage of women in the general population. Only one openly gay person has ever been elected to the Senate, and only six sit in the House of Representatives.

Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin is currently the only openly gay U.S. senator — and the only one ever. Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images.

But some countries do way better on this! The Rwandan and Bolivian parliaments contain higher percentages of women than men, and in Europe, the Nordic countries are generally killing it on gender equality in government. The U.K. Parliament has over 30 out LGBT members (of 650 total).

Will Scotland's achievement magically transform governments around the world so historically marginalized groups like women and LGBT folks are better represented?

No. But it's a good first step.

It's like (Notorious) Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, when asked when there will be enough women on the Supreme Court:

Here's to continuing to climb that ladder.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less

Most of us did some tumbling moves as kids, from somersaults to cartwheels. A chosen few could pull off more impressive moves, like handsprings and backflips. But guaranteed, no kid that any of us knew could do anything close to the feats 5-year-old Li Jiamin can do.

A video of Li doing 80 back handsprings in under a minute (some people counted 82—it's really hard to keep track without making yourself dizzy) has gone viral, with more than a million views on Twitter alone.

At first, you might assume it's a looped video (I know I did). But watch the way the wrinkles build up in the side and top of the mattress. If there's a loop in there somewhere, it doesn't account for most of the flips, and when you see what else Li can do, the feat becomes a whole lot more believable.

Keep Reading Show less
True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.